Saturday, March 29, 2008

Look Down

I walked to the gym from work yesterday. Cold, windy, and gray as it was it was still enjoyable. I work on Park Avenue in between 41st and 40th streets and my gym (Bally's) is near 8th Avenue and 50th street. In my mind, if I have the time, it seems pretty foolish to take the train when I'm going to the gym to sweat anyway! So, I walked along 41st street heading west toward the main branch of the NYC Library. You would recognize it by the stone lions out front. All along 41st street are plaques incorporated into the sidewalk with quotes about and from books and other writing. It's something I have walked past many times without stopping to read. It crosses my mind to read them, but I'm on my way somewhere and stopping to read the sidewalk usually isn't the best use of my time. As I passed over them yesterday I thought, "Okay, I am going to randomly stop and read one of these." This is the one I read.

"All good books are alike in that they are truer than if they had really happened and after you are finished reading one you will feel that all that happened to you and afterwards it all belongs to you; the good and the bad, the ecstasy, the remorse, and sorrow, the people and the places and how the weather was. If you can give that to people, then you are a writer. Ernest Hemingway (1899-1961), "Old Newsman Writes," Esquire December 1934

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Let's Start Talking

I just watched the speech that Barack Obama gave on race in Philadelphia. It was brilliant, and I feel called to write. It is important for us all to talk about discrimination in all its forms. How do I personally feel about race in America? I will say that as a white woman I am very rarely called to examine my whiteness. In fact, I am curious how many white people think about their race at all unless they are filling out some survey that asks or if they are a part of a rare conversation about race. I am often called, though, by myself and society to examine my place in that society based on gender. When men whistle at me from across the street, when men comment on my body as I pass them, when I wake up in the morning and have to decide how to dress and most importantly when I see a man being paid more for the same job, I am forced to view myself not first as my consciousness perceives me, but as the world sees me- a woman. My gender informs my consciousness it does not define it. I can only imagine that is how life is for most black people in America. They are viewed first as black and then as whole individual they truly are. Let's be honest it's easy to do. When you meet someone or pass them on the street your mind discerns whatever information it can. Color and gender are two easy things to pick up. It is only when assumptions are made based on that discernment that problems exist. We live in a male- dominated and white- dominated patriarchy- there are assumptions made about race and gender all the time that society at large does not call into question. For example, I held a job where I know I was paid less than a man who was doing the same job. But, wait, it wasn't the same job, I was in a sort of management position. Now, when it comes to money in the office there is a unspoken rule against asking your coworkers how much money they make. But, the reality is the "rule" is in place so we don't find out how much disparity there is between colleagues doing the same work. Why is it easier to pay a man more money for the same job? Well, let's look at the reasons. A man is saving for his future and the future of his family (and even if he doesn't have a family, he will someday, so it would behoove you to pay him well now. After all it's for the betterment of society to have well established financially stable families). A woman, on the other hand, even if she has a family probably needs the money to buy shoes. This disparity is further promoted by our government in the way that the Supreme Court recently ruled on equal pay and the Congress failed to pass legislation in reaction to the ruling. The woman who brought the suit against her employer had worked there for years not knowing that a disparity existed. She was probably following the "rule" to not ask colleagues how much they were making. She found out after years of service to the company that the difference was quite significant. She filed a claim against the company. The Supreme Court ruled that a claim must be filed against an employer within a 180 day time frame from the point at which the discrimination occurred. So, basically when you are hired to do a job or promoted you have 180 days to interview/ interrogate all the other employees with the same job duties as you. Once you find out the information (hopefully it didn't take all 180 days) you should head directly to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and file a charge against the company instead of heading to your HR department where you might get the answers you would like and probably not ruffle quite as many feathers. Good luck with that. How did my story end? It ended the way I'm sure thousands of women and minority people's do. I intended on saying something all along, but when confronted with the actual asking I risked losing a job that I thought I desperately needed at the time. I did ask for more money for one project where the responsibility completely laid with me and I got it, but not before I was berated on how my boss that his bills were four times what mine are (Yes, he said this, and I about fell out of my chair). I decided after this conversation that I would not say anything and leave the company not having ruffled feathers. Because I am an actor (actress) I have to have many jobs that I can go back to after I finish a show. No one company can guarantee me my slot back when the show is over, so I have tried to build a net for myself. This job with all its quirks is one of those in the net. Conclusion: No feathers ruffled, but the ones on my own broke behind.
I started this discussion with my own story because I think it illustrates how easily discrimination can occur and how hard it is to stand up. What happened in the 50s, 60s and 70s in America in relation to race and gender was that people stood up, they talked, and things changed. We have succumbed to being an America that is frightened of talking about issues of race and gender. It isn't polite conversation and really things are better. This is true things are better, but as Barack Obama so brilliantly put it "This union may never be perfect, but generation after generation has shown that it can always be perfected."
Tell your story. Make it personal. Show the world that disparities exist in the hope that once we are no longer ignorant of other's suffering we may all come to love our neighbor as we love ourselves and respect one another because we are capable of understanding.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008


Chapter 2- Travel
So once we got through the drama at the check-in counter it was easy sailing through security to wait for our plane. As we waited an American Airlines representative came over the loudspeaker and informed us that there would only be food for purchase in the main cabin during our five hour flight. This was the first international flight that I have ever taken where they did not provide food. The food's never that great anyway, but it's still pretty ridiculous. So we slept while the plane flew us south to Barbados. After getting our bags and heading through Customs we went to find our rental car. The woman who met us had no accent, which was kind of sad because when I travel somewhere new I like to hear as much of the accent as I can. We asked her for directions to the hotel. She would be the first in series of people who would tell us all the ways to get there. We were to go straight through the roundabout and then make a left at the gas station, a left where the road T's and then a right (somewhere...). Once we had gotten off the main road the directions seemed to no longer make sense. Needless to say after the first left we stopped two older women who were walking up the hill to ask for directions. I loved this lady. She had an accent and talked in a really high pitched voice. She said, "You go straight down dis hill, and so. Den, you turn right, and so. Den you see signs for de Silver Sands, and so, and you follow dem, and so." I was so caught up in the way she sounded I was barely listening to what she was actually saying. It also is very funny to me that everyone who gave us directions the entire week loved to use the word straight. None of the roads were quite straight, especially the ones with ninety degree turns in them, but it made us laugh. We headed down the hill and after the few turns we didn't see any signs, so we stopped and asked a young girl who was obviously on her way home from school. She didn't know how to get there, but she offered to call her dad. He told us to go straight (of course) and then head left toward the water. We thanked them and made it to the Silver Sands Beach which was not our hotel, but we knew we were nearby. We pulled up to the beach and asked the Park Manager how to find the hotel. Luckily it was up the hill and around the corner. Whew! We finally made it! We received a map of the island from the front desk and here we learned that the government had only recently started a sign campaign to mark all the streets on the island in 2007. I think that the people who live there have made it this long without signs, they'll continue giving directions by landmark instead of street name. I think it should be part of the experience to ask the locals for help. It sure made my day.
Chapter 3- Vacation Begins
After we got our room key we headed around to our building and there I saw my first and only monkey. Yes, I said it, a MONKEY!!!! He crossed the road in front of us and I about fell out of the jeep. It was to be the only monkey we saw all week, and I never got a picture of him. Until now I had only ever seen monkeys in zoos. I think I might have even clapped my hands and screamed! Yes, I know, I'm a big kid, but it's fun to experience new things and it reminds you that life is never truly redundant- there is something new always. I like to view the world through the inquisitive eyes of a grownup child...
We dropped our bags and headed to the bar on the beach for beer and food. We hadn't eaten since we left the airport. Did I mention that American Airlines didn't even give us peanuts or pretzels? We were hungry. Unfortunately we had just missed the snack time (when you stay at a resort you are kind of beholden to some weird retirement home schedule). But, it was tea time and so we had some cake and Banks Beer to tide us over until dinner. I walked down to the beach and sat watching the waves and the sunset, while drinking my beer. A local guy, Owen, walked up to me and chatted with me. I could barely understand him, but he was nice enough to give me some suggestions for fun things to do. He suggested Oistins and St. Lawrence Gap. I headed back up to the bar where Jeff and Andrea (the bride and groom) were sitting with Ob. They were coming to check that we made it in okay. After they left we had dinner at the restaurant at the resort. The food was good, but the portions were small. I know, I know, American portions are out of control, but we ordered a calamari appetizer and there were only five pieces. They were really good and I was about to eat off my arm before they came, so we really could only laugh. I had seafood crepes as my main dish and it was yummy. Ob had baked chicken and it was also good- he's so nice to share with me.
The next morning we went to the beach and swam, I read my book and then we waited for Jeff to come by to show us around. The drive to the main road was so easy, I laughed at how difficult it had been for us to get there the day before. Jeff drove us to Miami Beach, Oistins, St. Lawrence Bay and into town- the capital city, Bridgetown. Navigating the island is actually pretty straight forward. If you want to head toward Bridgetown, you follow the bus stop signs that say, "Into city." If you are heading away, the bus stop signs say, "Out of city." I guess the only real problem is that if you know you are going out of the city there are a lot more directions to head.
Later Ob and I drove ourselves to Oistins for dinner. The fish comes right off the boat to the market where they scale it and sell it to the vendors on the street. We sat down at Mo's and ordered flying fish, rice, and macaroni, and of course beer! It was delicious. The fish was so fresh it melted in my mouth. We ended up having dinner with Owen (the guy from the beach) who passed by and recognized me. That was interesting. Later we drove over to the gap where we walked around and ended up at Jumbie's for more beer, music and dancing. When the DJ really started it was so much fun. He played the hits from the 90s and Ob laughed at me while I sang all the words to Humpty Dance. Then he played Reggae hits from when Ob was growing up and we danced and danced. It was a blast!
Friday we were determined to get a real Bajan breakfast. I was really looking forward to some Ackee and salt-fish. But, we would come to find out it is not an easy meal to find. Most places that serve breakfast, serve American or English style. Jeff came and picked us up. We had to go to the country with the chef for the reception and pick up some things from Andrea's mom's house. Before we headed up we got fishcakes, beer and tamarinds (a really well-rounded meal!). It was fun to watch the guys barter at the vegetable and fruit stand and generally give the ladies there a hard time, but I think they enjoyed the attention. Andrea's house was in St. Joseph so we all piled into the Jeep and raced up and down hills. Once we picked up the things we needed and I visited with the pigs and goats, we headed back down to town. We got our lunch from Chefette, a Bajan fast food chain and took it back to the beach to eat. We had Roti and coconut ice cream and I had a Red Juicee and Ob had Maubi. I tried it and it's good, but it really has a strong after taste exactly like you imagine bark to taste like.

Chapter 4- The Wedding
On Saturday morning we woke up and were planning on heading to the beach, but there were some other wedding guests at our hotel (Keano and Ollie and their son Ky and Ollie's sister Lisa) and we ended up showing them around. We went in search of breakfast and ended up going to Edith's Coffee House. I have never seen it take so long to get breakfast together, but it really was funny to laugh about how slowly the island moves. There was this nice lady there who asked us why we were all in town and then offered to guide us to the church and the reception hall so that we wouldn't get lost when we were on our own later that day (Jeff had shown us the way to the church, but as you can already guess the directions were a bit muddled in our heads). So, we followed her all the way to town in search of the Church. All of us had pieces of information, but no one was really clear about where we were headed. We got turned around again and again until we ended up calling to get the name of the Church and eventually found it and then headed back to the hotel in enough time to shower and change. The wedding started at three. Ob and Keano were joking that they bet the wedding wouldn't start on time. I had never heard of that happening, but I guess it happens a lot in the islands. We were on the road and who should pass by but Jeff who waved to us and signaled that the wedding would be starting at four. Good thing because it was almost three and the groom was still on the road not wearing his suit. When we got to the church we found out that both the bride and groom weren't there. We all sat there waiting until after four. Ob and Keano were joking that Jeff probably got cold feet, but they all arrived and the wedding was beautiful. Then we headed to the reception, it was almost sunset and it was gorgeous. We had a lot of fun.
The next morning we headed down to the beach for our last time and swam and took pictures. We headed to breakfast at Cafe Luna with Keano and his family. It was great to sit around the table and eat with our new friends talking. We walked a bit around Oistins and then headed to the airport. It was a beautiful way to end our vacation.

Epilogue- American Airlines
American Airlines is jokey. When we got on the plane to head back to NYC the seats in the center next to us were destroyed and had do not use signs on them. They were also covered in brown electrical tape to keep people off of them. I have never seen anything like it and we joked and laughed about how horribly managed they must be to not offer any food and to have seats that look like a giant bowled them over. I cannot figure how this happened...

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Ten (I mean 19) on Tuesday- Barbados Photo Story

Of course I couldn't pick just ten- I tried, but it was impossible. They are not in chronological order. Also, check back for the next chapters of our Bajan vacation. So, take a moment to see what we saw. Enjoy the view.
1. Ob's picture of the moss covered rocks on the beach at our hotel-
Silver Sands Resort, Christ Church Parrish.

2. The view from breakfast our last morning in Barbados from the Little Arches Hotel
on Miami Beach. It was a beautiful place.

3. Miami Beach, Barbados. Jeff's (the groom) mom lives around the corner from this spot.

4. OB enjoying the water.
The current was strong and the waves were pretty high.

5. Oh No- a shark?! This picture makes me laugh.
It looks like the guy on the boogie board is coming after me.

6. Just hanging out.

7. This was the view around the corner from our hotel.

8. Sunset. Beautiful. I can't say anything else.

9. Andrea's (the Bride) mom raises pigs in the country about an hour or so out of town in St. Joseph Parish.

10. I think he's smiling for the camera.

11. Ob's picture of the rocks on the beach just after sunset. He really has a keen eye for interesting subjects. There would be more pictures from this night except that my camera's battery died- Oops! (I almost ruined vacation).

12. The bride and groom as they make their entrance to the reception.

13. Me and Odelle outside the reception hall.

14. The ocean in the morning. It calms me.

15. I thought this was The George Washington House, which has an interesting history. It is the only place outside the US our first President ever visited. But after looking on the Internet I found that this was not that building. It was near the army barracks in Bridgetown, the capital city.

16. View from the Jeep. An old building in Bridgetown.

17. Banks Beer, the drink of choice on the island of Barbados.

18. Morning on the beach.

19. One last reminder of the magnitude and beauty of the world around us.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Barbados - Chapter 1- The Airport

Our journey began on Wednesday morning. We headed to JFK at around 7am for our 950am flight on American Airlines (one jokey airline if you ask me- more to come on that later). We had to stand in a long line to check in because you can only use the automated check in if you have the new passport with the computer chip in it. So there we stood right behind the most lovely family- Dave (dad), Leslie (mom), and Amanda (daughter). Names have been changed to protect the not-so innocent. Dave was a portly, short, balding and unattractive man in his early forties with a mouth like a sailor. Leslie, was a slight, unassuming, awkward woman who, we learned, is a stay at home mom. Obviously, Leslie somehow caused them to leave late for the airport and Dave spent the entire time in line swearing at her (without raising his voice) in front of all of us and his daughter, Amanda, who looked to be about 11 or 12 years old, from her prepubescent awkwardness. They had missed their flight and it was all Leslie's fault. Leslie looked straight ahead of her and for the most part kept her mouth shut tight. The only time she spoke was to agree that she had ruined vacation. Amanda continually switched her allegiance between mother and father. She was an uncomfortable child to behold. She seemed like she wanted to laugh at the way her father was speaking to her mother and then she would occasionally whimper like a baby. Often she would lean her head on her mother's arm only in the next instant to stamp her foot and say you ruined vacation. I told OB later that I couldn't believe that Leslie never once said, "Drop it," (a favorite of my mom's) or "Can we have this conversation in private." You have to understand that this conversation continued pretty much non-stop during our 40 minutes on line. I continually looked Dave in the eye and glared at him. This jokey guy was not deterred. I was amazed at this guy's absolute inability to let things go. He would be silent for a few moments and then start up as if he had never stopped, the F-word of course being his favorite expletive. At one point Dave said, "If we don't get on another flight today you can forget about coming home with us. [Pause for dramatic effect] Well, I guess you'll have to come home because where would you live? But the next F*&^ing vacation I am choosing where we go, when and for how long and you will just have to F&^%ing deal with it. And maybe I should make you get a job so you F&^%ing understand." I know what I would have said, "Honey, you are absolutely right. I have ruined vacation and I deserve to go back home alone. Why don't you and Amanda get on that flight without me." Then I would have taken my bags, hopped in a cab and enjoyed the week in the perfect silence of my own mind.
Lucky for me I won't ever be a Leslie and I was heading far from the craziness of New York to the lovely shores of Barbados to enjoy a fabulous vacation with my wonderful guy!

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Ten On Tuesdays

1. I have not packed yet for Barbados and I leave tomorrow morning- early. I really shouldn't be writing this but I couldn't help myself.
2. Tanning went well. I went three times and I didn't get burnt or get any sun poisoning or rash. Here's to five days in the sun with this continued success.
3. I was training at a new company for the last two days. I can't tell you about it because it is a private company. This brings me a tinge of sadness because I have so many observations....
4. I kind of like the business atmosphere. I fit into it well, but I am sure the novelty will wear off as the days go by and the monotony sets in.
5. I was thinking about escalators. They are a huge environmental waste. I was in Macy's last night and I realized as I was standing behind a lazy person who wouldn't walk up the escalator that they are always on. (I read in Time that England started a campaign to get people to walk up the escalators instead of just riding them to increase heart rate and to promote healthy living- I thought it was a great idea and so if I have to take the escalator then I always walk up. FYI- the Tube is notorious for having the trains stories below the ground so walking up the escalators is a pretty big commitment). Anyway, someone (me) should come up with a motion/human activated escalator. Just think how many escalators run all day and night and how often they are carrying no passengers.
6. I like a revolving door. I especially like it when someone is entering the opposite side at the same time as me. We are helping each other to get somewhere. It's a brief communal experience.
7. Have I mentioned that I am going to Barbados???!!!!!! I am so excited I can hardly stand it.
8. Charissa is doing the "Eat everything in your cupboard before going shopping again" thing. I really want to try it, so maybe when I get back. I'm sure it saves some money, but I'm also sure that you have to eat food which is questionable in either nutrition or age. It will make me ask the questions, "What bizarre mood was I in when I bought that?" and "What can I possibly cook this with to make it edible?"
9. I bought two books for the trip: Angela's Ashes by Frank McCourt and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain.
10. OB bought the CD of Hal Holbrook's staging of Mark Twain's stage appearances. It's super cool and I think Hal Holbrook is brilliant. The disc set came with a Mark Twain sayings daily calender and when I was at Border's looking for vacation reading I saw Huckleberry Finn and knew I had to read it again. It has been since the ninth grade and I loved it. I can't wait to love it again.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Yay Target!

I love Target! My digital camera broke when I dropped it. This is a typical problem that I have with electronics (oh, and glassware). I think gravity is stronger around me. I have been without a camera for about 6 months and Target had this awesome special for a Kodak EasyShare 10 mega pixel for $99 this past week. By Wednesday none of the Targets in Brooklyn or Queens had the camera in stock, so Barbara (who I worked with at the studio) suggested that I call the Jersey location near her house. They had three left and she called her parents (who are retired) and they went and picked it up for me!!! I am so excited to be able to have pictures on my blog again. I am more excited that I will have a really good camera for Barbados. Check back for pictures next week (I leave on Wednesday)!

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Book Report The Life of Pi

It was about two years ago that I first picked up The Life of Pi by Yann Martel. It's amazing what a difference time makes. I didn't realize that I had been so stressed out that I couldn't even concentrate on reading a really good book (I kept thinking it was the book- it was boring and difficult to get into. Nothing could be further from the truth). There is an ease to this book. It reads quickly and often makes you stop and ponder its philosophy. I love that. It follows the fateful journey of a young man (Pi) from his home in India to his new home in Canada. His father is a zookeeper in India and Pi is a child who ponders the great questions of life, finding himself at the Mosque, the Catholic Church and the Hindu Temple each week. Because of the political uprisings in India, Pi's father decides to move the family to Canada. They board a Japanese ship and that is where the story really begins. The ship is wrecked and Pi is the only survivor. We follow him on a lifeboat across the Pacific while he wrestles with life and death and the meaning of it all. Once I picked it up, I couldn't put it down. I was reading it every moment I had and finding that I wanted to ride past my stop on the train just so I wouldn't have to put it down.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Just to Clarify

I do not hate Hillary. I have voted for her twice for New York Senator. I think she's a great Senator. I don't think she's the best candidate for president. And her campaign style is a bit outdated and it frustrates me. I just felt the need to clarify. I think that no matter who you are voting for, when they revert to fear tactics in a campaign you should be leery of them. Trying to scare people into voting for you is not justifiable. It wasn't justifiable when Bush/Cheney did it in 2004 and it is even less justifiable now.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Ten on Tuesday

1. I have an ear infection. Please tell me you know what I should do for the pain. I know exactly when the ibuprofen has worn off and the right side of my face begins to ache.
2. I love Perogies. They aren't the most balanced food in the world, but when it hurts to chew and swallow, they are perfect and yummy!
3. I am going to Barbados!!!! Just one week away.
4. I am going tanning a few times before next week so that I don't end up with sun poisoning or a burn. It's been awhile since this pale girl saw the sun.
5. I have to buy a dress for the wedding- that's why we're going. A friend of OB's is getting married.
6. I have to find a job for when I get back. I think it might be waiting tables at least until I replenish my bank account. I can do it for awhile... i guess.
7. I miss my mom.
8. I owe you all two book reports (The Life of Pi and Jesusland), two theatre reviews (Sunday in the Park with George and August: Osage County), and a movie review (La Vie En Rose)
9. I have been working so much and then I got sick that I never wrote about these things. It has been an amazing two weeks when it comes to the art and literature I have been exposed to.
10. God, I need to get a show....

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Come On

I know I'm a little late when it comes to the "red phone" hoopla, but alas I do not have a TV so I had not seen the video until I decided I had read enough articles where it was referenced, but not fully explained that I promptly headed to You Tube to catch myself up.
I am a Democrat, and usually proud to make that statement. After watching this video I am all riled up and angry. Come on Hillary! The Hollywood voice over guy predicting impending doom, the ominous phone that continually rings and the incessant reference to the safety of the children all in the attempt to say, "You won't be safe in America if anyone else is running the country. Vote for me." This is disgusting. Why are we seeing something straight from the Bush/Cheney playbook? The politics of fear only weakens us as a party, but more importantly divides us as a people. We take it up and we are no better than that which we hope to replace. Regardless of who becomes president it is so important for us as Americans to be able to turn the page of history away from fear and cynicism and toward the brighter future that we can attain only through hope and cohesiveness. This ad is embarrassing.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008


My friend Joanne was hanging out with her boyfriend the other day. She doesn't particularly like politics and chooses to stay out of it. I know, you are surprised that a friend of mine doesn't enjoy politics, but I am very glad to call Joanne a great friend. [Seemingly incongruous side thought here:] She and I met at the strangest audition I have ever had in this city to date. I had met a friend of hers (Karen) at UPTA's (United Professional Theatre Auditions) in Memphis. Well, we decided to hit auditions together in the city, too. So we arrive to this audition for a summer theatre and I met Joanne. We were told by the monitor that we would be going into the room fifteen at a time. Weird, we all thought, but we'll go along with it. So Karen, Joanne and I filed into the room with twelve other girls. We were all taught a 3 to 4 pitch phrase of three different songs. Then we were asked to choose which phrase we would like to sing and then we each sang it individually going down the line. Our choices were Freddy My Love (from Grease), Home (from Yeston and Kopit's Phantom) and something from Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. Now, when I tell you that we sang three or four pitches a piece (which translates to three or four words as well), I'm not kidding. It was ridiculous! Then to top it off they made a cut from that "audition" and the three of us were cut. So we went to a Mexican restaurant around the corner and preceded to drink margaritas in the middle of the afternoon. Needless to say, we became great friends.
Okay, so back to the night this past weekend when she and her boyfriend were hanging out. Joanne is working out to be in a fitness competition so when she got the munchies she started eating broccoli and somehow her mind turned to Barack Obama. So, she knows I'm a fan and she knew that I would appreciate her humor/ ingenuity. If you agree, go buy this tshirt at using this link. I kind of love it.